Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Or bright infers not excellence; the earth,
Though, in comparison of Heaven, so small,
Nor glistering, may of solid good contain
More plenty than the sun that barren shines,
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,

But in the fruitful earth; there first received,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries
Officious, but to thee, earth's habitant.
And for the heaven's wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker's high magnificence, who built 101
So spacious, and his line stretched out so far,
That man may know he dwells not in his own,
An edifice too large for him to fill,

ΙΟΙ

Lodged in a small partition, and the rest
Ordained for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribúte,
Though numberless, to his omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual. Me thou think'st not

[merged small][ocr errors]

Who since the morning hour set out from Heaven,

Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived
In Eden, distance inexpressible

By numbers that have name. But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the heavens to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it moved;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Placed heaven from earth so far, that earthly

sight,

If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be centre to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own

120

Incited, dance about him various rounds? Their wandering course, now high, now low, then hid,

130

Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these
The planet earth, so steadfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Moved contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse

From the sun's beam meet night, her other

part Still luminous by his ray. Sent from her through the

air,

139

What if that light,

wide transpicuous

To the terrestrial moon be as a star,
Enlightening her by day, as she by night
This earth, reciprocal, if land be there,

Fields and inhabitants? Her spots thou seest As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce

150

Fruits in her softened soil, for some to eat
Allotted there; and other suns, perhaps,
With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light
(Which two great sexes animate the world),
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in nature unpossessed
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribúte
Each orb a glimpse of light conveyed so far
Down to this habitable, which returns

Light back to them, is obvious to dispute. But whether thus these things, or whether not,

[ocr errors]

Whether the sun, predominant in heaven, 160
Rise on the earth, or earth rise on the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin,
Or she from west her silent course advance
With inoffensive pace, that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even

And bears thee soft with the smooth air along ;
Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;
Leave them to God above; him serve and fear.
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou 170
In what he gives to thee-this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise;
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree;
Contented that thus far hath been revealed,
Not of earth only, but of highest Heaven."
To whom thus Adam, cleared of doubt,
replied:

180

"How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of Heaven, Angel serene,
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us, unless we ourselves
Seek them with wandering thoughts, and
notions vain.

But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;

Till, warned, or by experience taught, she learn
That not to know at large of things remote 191

From use, obscure and subtle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom; what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,

200

And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful; whence, haply mention may arise.
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour deigned.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance; now hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard.
And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,-
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply.
For, while I sit with thee, I seem in Heaven;
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace
divine

211

Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety." To whom thus Raphael answered heavenly

meek:

220

"Nor are thy lips ungraceful, Sire of Men, Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee Abundantly his gifts hath also poured, Inward and outward both, his image fair; Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace Attends thee, and each word, each motion forms.

Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on earth Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire

230

Gladly into the ways of God with man;
For God, we see, hath honoured thee, and set
On man his equal love. Say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befell,
Bound on a voyage úncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion toward the gates of Hell;
Squared in full legion (such command we had),
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work,
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mixed.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt;
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as sovran King, and to inure
Our prompt obedience.

shut,

Fast we found, fast

240

The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong; But, long ere our approaching, heard within Noise, other than the sound of dance or song; Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage. Glad we returned up to the coasts of light Ere Sabbath evening; so we had in charge. But thy relation now; for I attend,

Pleased with thy words no less than thou with mine."

So spake the godlike Power, and thus our

Sire:

250

"For man to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Induced me. As new-waked from soundest
sleep,

Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,
In balmy sweat, which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward Heaven my wondering eyes
turned,

« ForrigeFortsæt »